Monday, June 20, 2011

Frugal Wedding Tip #1: Skip the Engagement Ring

One of the largest expenses associated with the modern wedding is incurred even before the big day; bling costs a lot! Want to be frugal? I urge you to thumb your nose at modern custom and skip the engagement ring. Instead allocate the money to other costs.

My engagement to my husband was not a surprise; we are both too analytical for an impulse proposal. So, we had batted the idea of marriage around quite a bit. Included in the banter was my firm an utmost opposition to an engagement ring. My to be husband was shocked, pleasantly, but shocked to learn that some women did not require a precious stone as part of a marriage proposal. So, instead of unwrapping a ring that costs thousands of dollars, I opened a package that contained a keychain with a dangling envelope. Inside was a tiny plate with the words LITHA JUNE 2006. It was his way of asking me to marry him on the Summer Solstice (Litha means summer solstice). It was unique, precious, and cost less than $50. I said yes.

Why was I opposed to an engagement ring? First, it feels like they mark territory; kind of like a for sale sign with "contract pending" hanging on the bottom. The fact that only the female wears one underscores this marking behavior. Second, I'm not sure I could comfortably walk around wearing a ring that was extracted from the earth with harsh chemicals by child labor. And third, knowing that the cost of the ring could easily feed a family for a year in said country did not settle well with me. But that is me. If you really, really want this ring or your spouse-to-be insists (I've heard of this from other women), here are a few ideas on how to keep the cost down:
  • postpone the purchase until reaching a significant milestone in your marriage. I read a memoir of a women about having two children. She too had rejected the idea of an engagement ring. Then, after 10 years of marriage, two children, a home purchase, and the launching of two careers, a ring was purchased;
  • buy a fake or antique diamond;
  • buy a stone other than a diamond; or
  • use a family heirloom.
It takes a lot of self-confidence, mixed with stubbornness to take the non-traditional path, especially in the arena of weddings. Family, friends, my husband's parents, were all somewhat annoyed at the fact there was no ring. I'm not sure why? But, they were. Deciding what was best for us, not others, was an excellent exercise, and one we still continue to practice. And the fact that our money market didn't take a drastic dive upon deciding to get married eased that practice.

Skip the engagement ring, you'll protect your wallet, the earth, and the stress of wearing bling.

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